Shwartz's Famous Montreal Smoked-Meat Sandwich

The famous deli sandwich composed of smoked fatty brisket, soft rye and big schmear of yellow mustard. Photo by Laura Togut.


By Danielle Crittenden Frum

No Montreal Jewish deli will reveal the secret -- and sacred -- mix of spices used to smoke their briskets. Schwartz's Deli is arguably the most famous and popular: Lines form outside at all hours to eat its version of a Jewish Big Mac (calorie-wise at least). The bread is soft so as to soak up all of the delicious fatty juices. There is nothing else added except mustard -- in Schwartz's case, the bright yellow kind. You can order a vinegary coleslaw, pickle, and bag of fries on the side (in case you don't feel like you're consuming enough calories). Amazingly, the Food Network was able to ply the cooking method out of Schwartz's -- but of course, not the spice mixture, which the deli deemed "top secret." But in a completely separate recipe --also on the Food Network (good job FN!) -- there were the ingredients for a more typical mixture of "Montreal spices." You can add to these what you like; I might be tempted to throw in a couple of cloves and some crumbled bay leaves. In any case, I've combined the two recipes. If you have a smoker and the patience to wait at least 11 days (including the marinating), this will be the closest thing to actually chowing down the sandwich in Schwartz's itself. Better yet: no line.

Serves many.

1 whole brisket

For the Montreal Spice Mix:

2 tsp peppercorns (10 ml)
1 ½ tsp coriander seeds (7 ml)
1 ½ tsp cumin seeds (7 ml)
2 tsp fennel seeds (10 ml)
1 tsp mustard seeds (5 ml)
1 tsp dry mustard powder (5 ml)
1 tbsp celery seeds (15 ml)
2 allspice berries
1 tbsp smoked paprika (15 ml)
2 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp brown sugar (30 ml)
1 ½ tbsp kosher salt (22 ml)

Marinate meat in blend of spices and refrigerate for 10 days. 

Smoke brisket for 8 hours.

After smoking is finished, steam the meat for 3 hours to restore moisture.

Once moistened, thinly slice the smoked meat.

Pile high on your favourite Rye bread.

Top with choice of mustard. Enjoy!

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